As the meetings to determine the fourth and final spot in the College Football Playoff are underway, the Associated Press voters have made their decision. For whatever that is worth, the AP Top 25 following conference championship Saturday has placed Alabama at No. 4 just ahead of Big Ten champion Ohio State.
While the AP and coaches poll do not always indicate how the selection committee will operate, it is still worth monitoring as you try to guess how this will all shake out. There was little dispute over No. 1 in the AP poll with Clemson receiving 43 first-place votes to stay on top ahead of No. 2 Oklahoma (18 first-place votes). SEC champion Georgia bumped up three spots but did not receive any first-place votes.
In the last three seasons, 11 of the 12 teams ranked in the AP’s end-of-the-regular season top 25 following conference championship games have been selected to play in the playoff. Only No. 4 Baylor in 2014 missed out on the playoff, with No. 5 Ohio State getting the nod from the committee.
The Buckeyes moved up three spots and are ranked just ahead of No. 6 Wisconsin, with the Badgers falling three spots.No. 7 Auburn also fell three spots, and Pac-12 champion USC moved up three spots to No. 8. The Trojans moved ahead of idle Penn State, who stayed firm at No. 9. AAC champion UCF, on the strength of an undefeated season, cracked the top 10 at No. 10, just ahead of No. 11 Miami.
Here is the full top 25 from the AP as we head to the bowl season:
- Clemson (43 first-place votes)
- Oklahoma (18)
- Ohio State
- Penn State
- Notre Dame
- Oklahoma State
- Michigan State
- Washington State
- Virginia Tech
- Mississippi State
- Boise State
Another day (hour?), another award paring down its field of players eligible to win this year’s honor.
The latest to do as much is the Outland Trophy, with the award that is handed out annually to the nation’s top interior lineman on either side of the ball announcing the eight semifinalists for this year’s honor. Headlining the most recent group is Houston’s Ed Oliver, who was the 2017 Outland winner.
Top-ranked Alabama (offensive tackle Jonah Williams, nose guard Quinnen Williams) and second-ranked Clemson (offensive tackle Mitch Hyatt, defensive tackle Christian Wilkins) accounted for half of the eight semifinalists. The other three semifinalists not already mentioned are North Carolina State center Garrett Bradbury, Wisconsin guard Michael Deiter and Oklahoma guard Ben Powers.
Next week, this group of eight semifinalists will be pared down to three finalists. The winner of the 2018 Outland Trophy will be announced during the Home Depot College Football Awards show on ESPN in early December.
For the second straight week, Ohio State will be down a man in its linebacking corps.
Earlier this week, Urban Meyer listed Baron Browning as probable for Saturday’s game against Maryland. Wednesday night after practice, however, the head coach confirmed that the linebacker will not play against the Terrapins.
Browning is dealing with an unspecified injury that sidelined the sophomore linebacker for the win over Michigan State this past Saturday.
Through eight games in 2018, Browning has been credited with 22 tackles, 3½ tackles for loss and a sack. As noted by ElevenWarriors.com, Browning has been rotating in with Tuf Borland at the middle linebacker spot throughout the season.
A five-star 2017 signee, Browning played in a dozen games as a true freshman last year.
Tuesday night, Western Michigan was officially removed from MAC West contention. Less than 24 hours later, WMU removed one of its top assistants.
Wednesday night, the Broncos announced that they have “parted ways” with defensive coordinator Tim Daoust. The move comes after WMU gave up 42 points in a loss to a three-win Ball State team that came into the game 99th in the country in scoring (24.5 points per game).
All told, the Broncos gave up 51, 59 and 42 points in three straight losses that knocked them out of the West race and handed the division title to Northern Illinois.
“I appreciate Tim and his family’s dedication to the Bronco football family these past two seasons,” head coach Tim Lester said in a statement. “At this time I felt we needed to go in a different direction.”
This was Daoust’s second stint in Kalamazoo as he was an assistant with the Broncos from 2006-09. Prior to this two-year stint at WMU, Daoust was the coordinator at Ball State.
Daoust will be replaced for the remainder of the year by defensive line coach and co-defensive coordinator Lou Esposito. WMU, which is bowl-eligible for a school-record fifth-straight year, will close out the 2018 regular season against West champion NIU next Tuesday.
A conference known for its defense is front and center for an award that honors that side of the ball.
Of the five finalists for the 2018 Bronko Nagurski Trophy announced Wednesday by the Football Writers Association of America, three of them hail from the SEC — Kentucky linebacker Josh Allen, LSU safety Grant Delpit and Alabama nose guard Quinnen Williams. The other two –Michigan linebacker Devin Bush, Clemson defensive tackle Christian Wilkins — come from teams which are ranked in the top four of the most recent College Football Playoff rankings.
North Carolina State’s Bradley Chubb was the 2017 winner of the Nagurski. Houston’s Ed Oliver was a finalist for that award and was eligible again this year, but a knee injury has sidelined him for the last three games and will likely keep him out for a fourth — if not longer.
The 2018 winner will be honored at a Dec. 3 ceremony in Charlotte.